Although this film shares the name of the popular 1960s show, 2002's
I Spy bares little resemblance to to the Bill Cosby and Robert Culp TV series.
The characters' names may be the same but the plot is a lot less cerebral and
the action is pretty bland.
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, and
Agent Alex Scott (Owen Wilson) is assigned to find a new stealth fighter called
Switchblade. The plane, which was stolen from the U.S., is in the hands of
international arms dealer Arnold Gundars (Malcolm McDowell), who is attempting
to sell it to the highest bidder in Budapest, Hungary. Taking championship
boxer Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) with him as an undercover decoy, Alex is
supposed to find and recover the aircraft. Kelly Robinson is supposed to be
Kelly Robinson, which means he's to be loud, obnoxious and full of himself.
The plot, admittedly, is second banana to the comedic antics of Murphy and
Wilson. Well, mostly Murphy, who gives one of his better performances as the
over-the-top, always-referring-to-himself-in-the-third-person Robinson. Wilson
is no slouch either, but he's much more subdued in his role as Alex Scott.
The comedy in this action comedy is in no need of repair.
The problem is the action, which
isn't very abundant or entertaining. For a spy movie to be engaging -- even
one with a comedic focus -- there should
be a mission that's somewhat entertaining or even somewhat interesting. Here,
the stolen "invisible" plane doesn't really seem to matter much and
the attempt to create a backdrop of espionage fails miserably. Famke Janssen
is wasted in a thankless role as a possible double agent. Gary Cole, for some
reason, plays a Latino-like super-spy named Carlos, who provides a few inspired
comedy moments, but little else.
I Spy is not terrible but it's only half as good as it should have been.
characters from the TV series are reversed in this film version. In the original
TV series, Kelly Robinson (not Alexander Scott) was the white guy and the
athlete, while Alexander Scott was the black guy and the non-athlete. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)